Oenologie - Les étapes de la dégustation - Les Grappes

The stages of the tasting

When we think about tasting, we see people spinning their glass, smelling the wine, tasting it, then finally spitting it out! This is neither simple nor difficult but simply requires technique and above all practice. It should not be thought that tasting is not accessible to everyone, because tasting is above all tasting. We are all capable of tasting wine. So what are you waiting for?

To discover a wine properly, you have to make the most of each of your senses. Don't miss any step to discover the secrets of the wines you are tasting! Les Grappes helps you to become a real wine tasting pro!

Step 1: The Visual Examination

You have to use your eyes! How to taste a wine without admiring it for a few moments. Above a white surface or under a light source you can visually appreciate a glass of wine. The colour of the wine, in other words its colour tells us a lot about many things:

At first you must observe the limpidity of the wine, in other words the cleanliness of the wine. A clear, good quality wine has no particles in the liquid or on the surface.

You should also discover the viscosity of a wine by observing the tears of the wine (the wine flowing down the wall of the glass). To do this, turn your glass slightly to displace the liquid and if the tears are fine and fall back quickly then the wine is acidic. Otherwise, if the tears are thick, then the wine is fat.

With your eyesight, you can also have fun guessing the age of a wine thanks to the colour of its robe. For example for red wines, a "young" wine has a colour between purple and purple that turns to tile and brown with the years. White wines are transparent when young and become a little more orange with the years. An orange wine can also characterize a sweet white wine.

2nd step: The Olfactory Examination

For this stage, which is divided into two stages, you will have to use your nose to discover all the aromas present in the wine!

It will be necessary to start by discovering the first nose, i.e. to smell the wine for the first time before shaking it in the glass. If the wine doesn't smell good, the bottle is probably corked. If you don't smell anything, air the wine to bring out its aromas. This is the second nose.

The second nose consists of turning the wine in the glass in a circular fashion and then smelling the wine. Little tip: put your glass of wine on the table before turning it slowly, you will avoid a catastrophe. This allows the aromas to rise to the surface and reveal themselves to your nose when they are in contact with the air. These aromas come from the grape variety from which the wine was made. They therefore give valuable information about the wine. If you can't recognise the aromas, first try to find out whether the wine smells pleasant. Then you will only have to eliminate it, does the smell remind you of flowers, fruits, herbs, or spices?

After these two steps, you will finally be ready to taste your wine.

3rd step: The Taste Examination

To taste a wine you have to take a small amount in the mouth. This step is the most technical of the three. Once the wine is in your mouth, you will have to open your lips to suck in air and then exhale through your nose. This allows the aromas to circulate between your mouth and your nose.

In this stage we distinguish three times:

  • The attack: when you take the wine in the mouth, it can be weak, frank, or intense. You can tell if the wine is acid, sweet, salty or bitter for the first time.

  • The mid-palate: this allows us to analyse the wine, its texture and flavours. You have to make the wine turn in your mouth as if you were chewing it.

  • The finish: this is when you can analyse the length in the mouth. This is the length of time you continue to smell the aromas.

Through these 3 steps, it is therefore obvious that the use of each of your senses is essential, and in particular your olfactory and gustatory senses. What to remember from a tasting is simple: do I like this wine? This appreciation is personal and totally subjective because tastes and colours cannot be discussed. When tasting a wine, we should not be afraid to make a bad comment, the appreciation of a wine depends on our tastes but also on our experiences.

Lou Dubois for Les Grappes

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